Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Too Golf for Folk Music
So, sometimes the little screw-ups can land you in the most rich and exciting spaces… Like, for example, if one should only remember at the very last minute (car packed, GPS set) that one should have changed the accommodation booking in Edinburgh to allow for one’s arrival a day early and so one therefore contacts the hostel only to find that there is nothing available to accommodate the earlier arrival… So, being the solution focused type, one gets the map out, selects a random town name on the map that looks near Edinburgh, but not actually in it, and makes a call to the first B&B one google-finds, which, by some lovely coincidence has a room free…
Despite one’s past record for such ‘lucky dips’ having a rather vanilla outcome at best, this one turns out to be in possibly the most glorious location on earth, ever, in the history of glorious places… ever. And the B&B is like a little paradise within paradise, with toast!
My friend Caroline and I were convinced we had stumbled across a secret beauty – a beachside gem, bathed in sunlight and clear, cool air. We walked for miles on wide open beaches, refreshed ourselves in cosy Scottish pubs, watched birds, took photographs (me), painted (Caroline), and soaked up the fine Scottish air. We swore to tell only a handful of people about this beautiful place, for fear it would become over-run if we publicized our find too eagerly…
Bless our naïve hearts! On our last morning there, Caroline was surfing the inter-webs and came across the evidence that our ‘Secret Haven’ was in fact rather well known… Gullane (pronounced Gullen, which we discovered only after we’d said it wrong to about 100 locals on separate occasions… I’m sure they weren’t laughing at us at all) claims to be home to one of Scotland’s most famous golf courses… Just down the road in Aberlady is a highly-prized bird-watching location and the home of the Scottish Ornithological Club, where you can see some rare bird species… It seems a few people have been here before us!
Once we got over the shock of realizing we had not stumbled upon an as-yet-undiscovered Scottish coastal tribe, we were able to settle into the humour of a trip that would see us start with glorious twin-bed, ensuite B&B accommodation and downgrade with each move until we found ourselves sharing with vocal and frustrated walkers and selfish snoring tourists in a hostel dormitory with shared bathroom. On balance, I think we can safely say the Edinburgh hostel sucked the most. Although we had a private room, it was not private enough to separate us from the bucks night crowd who decided to continue their party back at the hostel at 3am. And thank god the locks were good when the group of holidaying ‘older’ gentlemen mistook our room for theirs at a similar hour the following night and tried to get in a couple of times. Nothing beat the grandeur, however, of the youth hostel in Loch Lomond… in a castle. Utterly spectacular and like something out of a horror film, but full of uber-healthy walkers and climbers (possibly the stuff of other people’s nightmares, but undoubtedly good conditioning for me in the run up to the big walk).
So, accommodation issues and giggles aside, things have been really good, thanks for asking. I’ve enjoyed what might constitute a speed-therapy session with a friend I hadn’t seen properly for something like ten years (condensing ten years of life into highlights, lowlights, emotional traumas, achievements and significant events); I’ve climbed rocks to look out over the sea (and thanked the Universe for the ; I’ve walked over vast sands on the beach where my grandparents ashes were scattered and explored the rocky beaches of my mum’s childhood; I’ve driven the length and breadth of the UK (sort of); worked out how to order a half-decent soy chai in Starbucks (desperate times, etc.); I’ve slept on the floor of my brother’s living room (house of six guys… floor possibly not my most hygienic choice, but the sofa was covered in tobacco); screamed at the top of my lungs in my car just to feel free; got myself a tan… from Scotland; enjoyed a folk music jamming session in an Edinburgh pub (thanks to the advice of the barmaid in Gullane).
For me, most importantly, I think I’ve started to find my rhythm. I made a very wise decision a couple of weeks ago in deciding to spend this week back at my mum’s instead of braving the chaos of London. I’m just not ready for the fast pace yet… But I’ll be there soon.
It turns out that the places that fill me with joy and make me feel close to bursting with excitement and potential are the places where nature makes me feel humble and where I have challenged myself to get to the place where that is apparent. I learned this while climbing over barnacle-covered rocks in my bare feet to get to an enormous rock pool and then going the precarious few rocks further (despite the sharp imprints of barnacles that were slowly slicing my feet) to stand at the edge of the Firth of Forth. And I learned it when I decided not to be afraid (long story, probably wouldn’t normally be afraid of a beach… read on) and I walked across the mud-sands at Silverdale (note the stuff about guided walks across the sands for safety) instead of taking the road back to the village. I let the mud-sands squidge through my toes and up my legs, before climbing more rocks and making my way across crumbling cliff paths when I couldn’t get any further on the beach. I don’t know if that stuff made any sense, but it feels exciting to me!
And finally, just a quick update on The Big Walk… I’ve decided to start in St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees – it adds about 20-25kms to the journey, not to mention a HUGE incline on day 1, but I felt like I was cutting it out for no real reason and I think I’ll feel like I haven’t properly done it if I don’t start it properly. I’ve booked my flight to Biarritz for Tuesday 17th… I’m excited now!!!
Next week is my Writer’s Retreat… No inter-webs available there, so feel free to abuse me at will, without consequences until a later date. And expect a classic novel by the end of the week… I feel it coming on.
Love youse… and miss my Aussies!!!!
Ps. The title of this post comes from a conversation about whether we could find any good music in Gullane… The statement was my conclusion.